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Tag Archives: Den Haag

The Art of Exercise

I enjoy studying graphic representations of data.  Like this map illustrating 59,036 routes between 3,209 airports on 531 airlines spanning the globe.

Sisu openflights org

Graphic courtesy of openflights.org

And this chart showing our galaxy’s relative size and position within the known universe.

Sisu Galaxy national geographic com

Graphic courtesy of nationalgeographic.com

The latest graphic to pique my interest is one created by Sisu.

Sisu Logo

Sisu takes your exercise data from Strava or Runkeeper, and turns that data into a print.  Sisu has been around since at least 2014.  Co-founder Peter Roome posted the first blog entry on the Sisu website in May that year.

I found out about Sisu last week, when cycling friends started posting their Sisu prints on Facebook.

There are a few designs to choose from on the Sisu website.  I like their original design that displays all the routes you covered between your chosen start and finish dates.  The plots of each route are sized so all of them fit on one page.  Thus the plots are not to scale.

Below are the routes I rode in 2010, the year I started cycling.  The first four rows show rides within and around Houston, Texas.  The rest of the routes are either loops or out-and-back rides starting from Den Haag, The Netherlands.  I moved from Houston to Den Haag in May 2010.

The rides range from 14.5km / 9mi (row two, far right, which was a short run from my Houston home to Hermann Park and back), to 124.5km / 77mi (row six, third from the left, which was from my Den Haag home to Kinderdijk and back).

Sisu 2010

Graphic courtesy of madewithsisu.com

Even with only fifty rides in 2010, patterns emerge from the plots.  Most of my Houston rides were with the West End 6:30 group.  We rode a consistent route through the city every Tuesday and Thursday.  Most of those are shown on row three.

Den Haag is just a couple of kilometers from the coast.  You can’t ride very far west before you run into the North Sea.  So a lot of my rides in The Netherlands followed the coastline, either south-west or north- east from Den Haag.

As you lengthen the timeline, the Sisu plots of each route get smaller.  To ensure that, in this case, 885 routes fit on one page.

This print shows my entire Strava ride history.

Sisu 2010 to 170318

Graphic courtesy of madewithsisu.com

I think this print is a fascinating way to review my cycling history.  It is obvious from the graphic that my Kuala Lumpur friends and I spent an awful lot of time on the KESAS Highway in 2013 and 2014, as shown by all the horizontal, slightly squiggly routes in the middle third of the print.

There was a time when the Bukit Damansara route was popular.  This route Bukit Damansaraappears a dozen times in the centre rows.

Highlights stand out too.

An evening’s ride around the Sepang International Circuit produced this plot Sisu Sepang.  It is not too difficult to find, about two-thirds of the way down the print.

More difficult to pick out is this route, my longest ever ride at 445km / 276.5mi Sisu BRM400.  It is in the fourth row from the bottom.

Of course, what my Facebook friends and I should be doing is paying Sisu for a print.

Sisu Order

Prints come on 300 grams per square meter Matt Photorag stock.  300gsm paper stock is at the higher end of paper thickness.

The print size is 12 inches by 16 inches for US orders, and A3 size (297mm by 420mm) for orders from the rest of the world.  The price for a physical print, or a digital download, are above.

I’m thinking of a present to myself when I hit 60,112km / 37,351mi.  That is 1.5 times around the circumference of the Earth.  Which should be in two months or so.

Weer Fietsen in Nederland

My Ritchey Break-Away came with me on a trip to Cuba.  Unfortunately I didn’t do any riding in Cuba.  My bike stayed in its case in La Habana while the group I was with explored Cuba by van.  About 1,800kms / 1,100mi over nine days.

I saw a lot of Cubans on bicycles, especially in towns outside La Habana.  Some towns have pedal powered taxis.

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A number of visitors were on touring bikes, especially on the south coast around Trinidad.  And we drove past these guys on road bikes in La Habana one evening.

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I brought my bike with me because my biker chick and I had a stopover in Den Haag on the way home.  My bike was out of its case and I was on the fietspaden (bike paths) the day after we arrived in the Netherlands.  It was so nice to be back in the dunes.

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It was not so nice to be back in the wind.

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Welkom in Nederland!

The group I cycled with when I lived in Den Haag, the Not Possibles, is still going strong.  I joined them for their regular Saturday ride.

I say “joined.”  In reality I got dropped within the first five kilometers of leaving DAKA Leidschendam.  I blamed it on the flu bug I picked up in Cuba.

Fortunately Jeff was kind enough to ride with me as I sniffled and coughed my way around the Zoeterwoude-Rijndijk to Hazwerswoude to Kruisweg to Leidschenveen loop, and back to the Coffee Club in Leidschendam.

It was nice to see old friends, and to meet new ones, over a coffee or two.

I rode six more times.  Alone, or with Jeff, or with David and Jeff, and one more time with the Not Possibles.  By that second ride with the Not Possibles I had flushed most of the flu bug out of my system.  I can honestly say that I rode “with” them that day.

What a great place for cycling the Netherlands is.  There are bike paths like this one to explore.

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The countryside is lovely.

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And of course there is this to look forward to . . .

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Now if the Dutch could find a way to eliminate getting something like this in your tyre, the Netherlands would be absolutely fantastic for cycling :).

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That puncture was a small price to pay for a wonderful week on my bike.  This is what I will remember.

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Kilo Months

I started keeping track of my rides in January 2010.  I had a new road bike, and an even newer Garmin Edge 705 cycle computer.  Uploading the details to the Garmin Connect web site after every ride became standard practice.   That year I rode 3,173 kilometers.

The heat map below shows where I rode for the first six months of 2010.  The most-ridden routes are depicted in red.  Click on the heat map to open the image in a new window.  You will see that most of my kilometers were accrued on the West End Tuesday and Thursday evening rides, and the Sunday Taco rides through Houston.

2010 Heat Map

Heat Map courtesy of Strava

I had some big rides outside metro Houston:  The Humble Lions Club Ride, The Space Race, and the BP MS150.  But I didn’t have a kilo month, which is my term for riding more than 1,000 kilometers in a month.

In mid-2010 I moved with my biker chick to The Netherlands.  The excellent cycling infrastructure there gave me more opportunity to ride, albeit on my own as I didn’t connect with a cycling group until the following year.

I started riding with the Not Possibles in March 2011.  The Saturday and occasional weekday rides with them boosted the distance I rode in 2011 to 6,985 kilometers.  In 2012 that number increased to 11,054 kilometers.  Almost of those kilometers were around Den Haag, with the 2011 and 2012 Ronde van Vlaanderen sportives, and the 2012 UCI World Championships sportive in Belgium thrown in for good measure.

Heat map courtesy of Strave

Heat Map courtesy of Strave

I racked up my first kilo month in August 2011.  The fine summer weather allowed me to ride eighteen times that month for a total of 1,085 kilometers.

Somewhat surprisingly I didn’t have another kilo month until January 2012, when I rode 1,091 kilometers.  I then had four more kilo months that year.  March, and three in a row from June to August.  My Not Possibles friends and I had a good summer that year.  My biggest ever kilo month was in July, when I rode 1,718 kilometers.  I had the luxury of being able to go on twenty five rides that month.

In October 2012 my biker chick and I moved home to Kuala Lumpur.   My ride frequency and average distance dropped dramatically for some months before slowly increasing again.  So it took more than a year before I had another kilo month, in September 2013.  Helped by five rides of at least 100 kilometers each.

My 2013 heat map looks a lot like my 2010 Houston heat map in that most of my rides are limited to a couple of routes.  Int his case KESAS and the Guthrie Corridor Expressway, with Putrajya and Genting Sempah thrown in for variety.  Scattered around the map are the one-off events that I rode in Johor Bahru, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan and Penang,  My Racun buddies and I also rode to Fraser’s Hill, and I joined Dave Ern on a ride to Cameron Highlands.  You can also read about the Bike X and Broga 116 rides.

Heat Map courtesy of Strava

Heat Map courtesy of Strava

It looks like I will ride about 7,300 kilometers in 2013.  And perhaps have another kilo month this quarter.  Garmin Connect will reveal all.

Things to See on a Bike in the Netherlands: Wall Art

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Drivers sometimes experience highway hypnosis.  That state of driving on autopilot and arriving at the destination without any memory of what you saw along the way.  Highway hypnosis is brought about by the monotony of driving along a boring road for an extended period of time.

I often finish a ride with little recollection of what was around me along the way.  But not because the ride was monotonous.  It is because the ride was fast.

The faster I ride the more I have to concentrate on the road just ahead of me.  Looking out for pot holes, gravel, sand, broken glass and other debris which could bring my ride to an abrupt halt.  If I am riding in a group my focus is even tighter; most of the time on the rider in front of me. Watching closely for sudden swerving or braking.  So I miss a lot of what is around me.

There is a web site called 18 Miles Per Hour, where “speed, calmness and observation all live together.”  The site is about seeing and absorbing the world around you while you ride.  Good reasons for going on slow rides once in a while.

I know I missed a lot of wall art the Netherlands.  Fortunately this wall was at the turn-around point in Alphen aan de Rijn.  I was going slow enough to notice it.

M.C. Escher is a very well-known Dutch graphic artist.  A number of his murals adorn buildings.  This three-dimensional mural, titled Fish and Birds, is on the Delfluent water treatment plant in Scheveningen.

The Escher in het Paleis museum is in Den Haag.  A large print of his Day and Night hangs over the entrance.

Look who I discovered living in Harmelen.

This mosaic is over the escalators that take pedestrians and cyclists in to and out of the south entrance of the Maastunnel in Rotterdam.  The tunnel is 585 meters / 1,920 feet long, and runs up to 20 meters / 66 feet below the river Nieuwe Maas.

The mosaic on the north side, visible in the following video, features mermen instead of mermaids.

Translated Lyrics
Two big copper dome roofs: north and south
Is where this tunnel sees them all go in and out
On the escalator cyclists stand oblique
They carry bags with lunch and start their working week

[Chorus]
Back to you, under the river Maas
Back to you, your echo I can’t lose
Back to you, and endless corridor
Tiles up the wall, I long for more
Back to you

I just go on, for there is still no end in sight
I get back in time, by the 1940’s light
The escalators rattle on the other side
You – at the end of this long tunnel – end my ride

[Chorus]

Closer to home is this mosaic on a wall of the sports center in Voorschoten.

The bike path to Rottermeren runs under the A12 highway and the train tracks near Moerkapelle.  The tunnels are tiled with patterns of flowers and birds.

This last piece was not on a wall but on the side of a truck.  It is however quite emblematic of the Netherlands, which is the center of production for the European floral market, as well as a major international supplier to other continents. More than Euro 5 billion worth of cut flowers are exported annually.

It certainly is worth slowing down to smell the flowers once in a while.

Things to See on a Bike in the Netherlands: Public Art

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It is not just windmills, cheese and tulips in the Netherlands.  The country is also a center for the visual arts, and has been since the 17th century.  Every town and city has at least one art museum.  The Dutch website Museum.nl lists 325 museums in the ‘fine arts’ category.

If you want to see a Rembrandt, a Vermeer or a van Gogh you will of course have to visit a museum.  (Click the arrow below to hear how the Dutch pronounce “Vincent van Gogh”).

Sculpture, on the other hand, is not confined to sculpture gardens like that at the Kröller-Müller Museum or the Museum Beelden aan Zee.  Public art is everywhere in the Netherlands.

Some is in a classic style.

This statue commemorates the many Maassluis residents who have lost their lives at sea. The inscription on this statue is from the poem “The Sea” by Antoine “Toon” Hermans, a noted Dutch comedian, singer and writer.

It reads “. . . en de zee zal mijn zwijgen wel verstaan . . .” / “. . . and the sea will understand my silence . . . ”

This memorial is in Hoek van Holland.  It is called “Channel Crossing to Life.”  It commemorates the 10,000 mainly Jewish children from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, who were permitted to enter England without their parents and escape Nazi persecution.  Most crossed the English Channel to Harwich from Hoek van Holland.

This gentleman can be found in Delft.

This fine fellow is watching the world go by in Leiden.

Some public art is in a modern style.

This statue is in Maassluis.

The Dutch equine industry is highly regarded in the Sports Horse sector, and particularly in terms of the standard of breeding and bloodlines. The equine industry in the Netherlands is worth more than Euro 1.5 billion per year.  This horse graces a field in Valkenburg.

I see lots of people out and about on horseback Ho

I noticed Dick Tracey in Den Haag soon after I arrived.  It was much later before I discovered that the building behind him is occupied by a branch of the Dutch police.

I’ve never seen anyone lounging on this seat in Hoek van Holland.

I am embarrassed to admit that I rode this route on the outskirts of Zoetermeer many times before I noticed this sculpture.

And some public art is just plain weird.

This melange of animals stands outside the Stadhuis in Den Haag.

Den Haag Stadhuis Sculpture

Surrendering in Hoek van Holland.

This multi-headed creature is in the Grote Markt in Den Haag.

Somewhere near Rijpwetering.  Interpretations anyone?

Classic, modern or weird:  all are visible from your bicycle.

Stuck Indoors

Peat lands, forests and palm oil plantations are burning in Riau province, Sumatra.  At this time of the year westerly monsoon winds blow from Indonesia across the Strait of Malacca to Malaysia.

Malaysia uses the Air Pollution Index (API) to measure air quality.  The amount of sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particulate matter in the air is used to calculate the API.  A value above 100 is unhealthy.  A value above 200 is very unhealthy.  A value above 300 is hazardous.  People are advised to stay indoors when the API is above 300.

In the past week the API hit 750 in Muar, Johor.  The highest API in Malaysia in sixteen years.  Readings in Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam nudged 200.

This was Kuala Lumpur a few days ago.

Haze

Photo courtesy of Lai Seng Sin at AP Photo

The air quality in Kuala Lumpur is not great at the best of times.  For some years now there have been too many poorly-maintained diesel engined buses and lorries spewing black smoke, and too many poorly maintained two-stroke engined motorcycles spewing white smoke.

When my biker chick and I moved to Den Haag in 2010 we immediately noticed the clearer air there.  I was later told that the air quality in the Netherlands is amongst the worst in the European Union.  The Dutch may emit excessive amounts of nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide, but it certainly looks like they have less particulate matter floating about.

I dug up some photographs I took while riding in the Den Haag area to remind me of what clear air and blue sky look like.

It was a beautiful evening when I left home Blue s

The Drie Molens (Three Mills) in Leidschendam They

Schiphol Ride 02

 

Kinderdijk Ride Seat View 1

The API this evening for Shah Alam is much improved compared to what it has been recently.

API courtesy of apps.evozi.com

API courtesy of apps.evozi.com

Tomorrow we ride!

Flying the Colors

I thinned down my collection of cycling jerseys when we came home to Kuala Lumpur.  Among the jerseys that I kept were my local club jerseys.  The camaraderie that those jerseys represent makes them near and dear to me.

“Club” sounds a bit formal.  “Group” is a better word.  My first cycling group was West End.  So named because our rides started outside the West End Bicycles shop on Blossom Street in Houston, Texas.  The shop owner, Daniel Murphy, told me about the group and the rides that they do.  There are Tuesday and Thursday evening rides that start at 6.30 pm, and Ted’s Taco Ride on Sunday mornings.

I met Daniel not long after I started cycling.  In my days of riding my Trek 7.5FX hybrid bike in my baggy shorts, t-shirt and tennis shoes.  My first ride with the West End group was spectacularly unsuccessful.  I got dropped within the first few kilometers.  Dropped so badly that I lost sight of everyone’s tail lights.  I didn’t know the route so I had to go home.

The next ride went much better.  Largely due to a few riders hanging back to make sure I didn’t get lost again.  I can’t thank them enough for that.

The West End group introduced me to riding further than 16km / 10mi in one go, how to change a flat tube, what to bring with me on a ride, and the culinary delights of Jax Grill and Doña Maria.

West End Bicycles sold these jerseys.  I know about Frank, the dearly-loved and sadly-departed shop cat.  I don’t know anything about the dog in the shop logo though.  I can tell you that the West End group lives up to the motto on the collar.  Fast and Friendly.

West End

There have also been a series of 6.30 jerseys.  Including this one, which I no longer have.  I donated this jersey, along with others, to an aid organization in Den Haag.  Perhaps someone is still sporting this jersey somewhere in South Holland.

Photo courtesy of West End Bicycles

Photo courtesy of West End Bicycles

It took a while to find a group to ride with in Den Haag.  All the Dutch cycling clubs that I encountered were very serious.  In the typically Dutch way they were very well-organised and had excellent facilities.  They were also geared toward the competitive rather than the recreational cyclist.  Some even required that you met a qualifying time for membership.  Ride 40km / 25mi in an hour for instance.

So a year had gone by before I heard of the Not Possibles.  A group made up largely of expatriates living in the Den Haag area.  Weather permitting, the Not Possibles meet outside the DAKA sports store in the Leidsenhage shopping center on Saturday mornings.  The route for the day often depends upon the prevailing wind, and is usually about 40 to 60km / 25 to 37mi long.

Th group was described to me as one that rode at a pace between 20 to 25kph / 12.5 to 15.5mph.  I learned on my first ride with them that this was not strictly true.  They averaged about 25kph / 15.5mph for the entire ride.  Including the slow rolling start from Leidsenhage, the stops at traffic lights and the slow rolling through built-up areas.  I spent most of my first ride with the Not Possibles frantically trying not to lose sight of the tail end of the group as it sped through the trees in the dunes.  This struggling on the first ride was becoming a bad habit.

A few months after I hooked up with the Not Possibles we decided that we needed group jerseys.  This is what we came up with.

Not Possibles

The Not Possibles introduced me to routes north, east and south of Den Haag (west was not possible because the North Sea gets in the way),  riding in the rain, harnessing a tail wind for 60km / 37mi and taking the train to get home, and the delights of apple pie and coffee at the Coffee Club.

I hooked up with a group of cyclists within a few days of arriving in Kuala Lumpur.  As soon as my bikes arrived I was off on a ride with the Racun group.  “Racun” is the Bahasa Malaysia word for “poison.”  In this case the name refers to how people are poisoned by the cycling bug.  One bike becomes two bikes becomes three bikes.  Every bright and shiny new accessory becomes a must-have.

The name is especially appropriate because the Racun group are linked to Van’s Urban Cycling Co.  Where new temptations are constantly presented.  Like the new Knog Blinder Road light.  I am not the only one in the group who is sorely tempted by this light.

The Racun group has introduced me to the world of folding bicycles, urban night rides, breakfast at Sharif Roti Canai, and orange + green apple + lychee juice.

Van’s was sold out of the original yellow and black Racun jerseys.  Fortunately for the new joiners a second batch of jerseys was made up.

Racun

The jerseys may be different, but they represent the same things.  A love of cycling, fun and friendship.  I fly these colors with pride.